What it is: Okay, so the augmented reality library doesn’t exactly exist, but I ran across a few items today that had me dreaming about what augmented reality could do for a library. First a definition for those of you unfamiliar with augmented reality. Wikipedia has this definition for augmented reality (AR): “a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery.” If that is a little cumbersome for you, let me give you my definition. Augmented Reality generally uses a camera to let you overlay virtual data on top of the physical world you are seeing through your camera lens. The virtual data could be a map, information, multimedia, or even look like a holograph that you can manipulate. For a really simple explanation you can check out this AR Common Craft Video. Augmented reality apps are available for many devices, the iPhone, Android and now the iPod Touch. Layar is a cross-platform app that is a reality browser that contains a large catalog of data layers. The AR apps use geolocation data from the GPS to layer data over the physical view. Junaio is another app that uses markers to help the device determine it’s location. When GPS isn’t available, AR markers can be used. These are square black and white barcodes that store data. You may have seen the AR markers begin to pop-up on advertising, grocery items, and books. The markers allow a device to gather data about the product and overlay that data on top of your physical view. How to integrate Augmented Reality into your library: You may be wondering how augmented reality could be used in a library. I recently read an article in the School Library Journal that got my wheels spinning about the ways augmented reality could transform the library experience. In the article they suggest putting AR markers on a book cover so that when a device is used, a librarian could walk across the book jacket and deliver a quick review of the title. Markers inside books could cause 2D diagrams or images to come alive as 3D interactive simulations. Another idea I loved was to create a literary tour using an AR program, which would describe locations that appear in a book. When you actually travel to that place, the text that took place there could pop up along with additional information or content. Each of these ideas is amazing in itself but thinking of transforming a school library, here are the ideas I came up with: Connecting your card catalog with augmented reality so that students could search for a book or topic from their mobile device and instantly get a layer that directs them to books that may be of interest. Connecting a tool like Shelfari, where students keep a virtual bookshelf and rate the books they have read ,with augmented reality. Students could instantly ask for books that are recommended based on their ratings of other books and recommendations could pop up in a layer directing students to those recommendations. Turning booktrailers (professionally created or student created) into an augmented reality layer. Students could use an AR marker on the book cover and instantly watch a booktrailer about the book. A this day in history layer where a fact pops up each day describing an event in history, the layer could then direct students to additional information, include a video or challenge of some kind. Connect AR to a search engine so that when students are researching a topic, book recommendations pop up in a layer with directions on where to find them. Our library is often a showcase of student work, what if each diorama, piece of artwork, or project had an AR marker on it? Students could record themselves (either audio or video) describing their work. This could be attached to an AR marker so that as students viewed other’s work, they could get an introduction to it by the creator. (This would be awesome for parent teacher conference time as well!) AR Markers next to the computers could remind students of important Internet safety rules, the school acceptable use policy, and what to do if they have been bullied. The school librarian could have a special selection of books each month that contain an AR marker linked to the librarian reading the story. Does your school have author visits or use the Skype an Author network? If so record the author (audio or video) and connect it to AR markers on their books. Label the areas of the library using AR so that ESL and ELL students can get a vocabulary lesson as they walk through the library. AR could bring libraries to life in new and exciting ways. What ideas do you have for the use of AR in the library? Tips: Currently this technology isn’t as easy as download and go for the library. Content needs to be created, and background building has to be done. For now you can download Layar to get a feel for how augmented reality works. You can also visit the “Create” section to create your own layers of AR (this is how you could make some of these ideas happen). Junaio also allows you to create a channel that offers information. Junaio makes it very easy to add information by tagging directly within the application. You can tag your library with comments, pictures, audio, or 3D objects. If you are using AR in your library please let us know more about it! Want to see more AR tools? Here are some that I’ve reviewed. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Augmented Reality in your library.